FAQ: COVID-19 Benefits in California
Governor Newsom has waived the 7-day waiting period to apply for unemployment, state disability and paid family leave programs. We recommend that you submit your applications as soon as possible. Be familiar with the employer-provided benefits and any temporary benefits extended by your employer. Talk to your steward or union representative if you need help or have questions about these benefits.
Updated September 25, 2020
- Can I apply for CA Paid Family Leave?
- Can I apply for CA Family Leave because my child’s school is closed or childcare provider is unavailable because of COVID-19?
- Can I apply for CA Unemployment Insurance?
- Can I apply for state disability insurance?
- Can I apply for workers’ compensation? (updated May 11, 2020)
- Can I be evicted for not paying rent?
- Can my house be foreclosed on if I can’t make mortgage payments?
- Can I extend the deadline to file my California tax returns?
- Can I receive a stimulus payment?
- Can I access temporary accommodations closer to my healthcare facility?
- Can I access childcare as an essential worker?
- Can I enroll in healthcare coverage if I am newly uninsured?
- Can I request an accommodation to work from home if I have a disability? (added May 6, 2020)
- Can I be reimbursed for purchasing PPE out-of-pocket by my employer? (added May 6, 2020)
- Can I receive paid sick leave because I’m infected with COVID-19? (added September 25, 2020)
Can I apply for CA Paid Family Leave?
YES. If you’re unable to work because you’re caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19, or any other illness (certified by a medical professional), you may be eligible. This program provides up to 6 weeks of paid leave, and starting on July 1, 2020, it will be 8 weeks. You are paid 60% to 70% of your current wages, which ranges from $50 to $1300 a week depending on your income. Go to edd.ca.gov to apply.
Can I apply for CA Family Leave because my child’s school is closed or childcare provider is unavailable because of COVID-19?
If you request paid family leave because your child’s school is closed or childcare provider is unavailable, your request may be denied because healthcare providers are exempted from emergency family leave (under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act). If you decide to leave your job (that is, terminate your employment) because of childcare concerns, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance under the CARES Act. Talk to your steward or union representative if you are facing this situation.
Can I apply for CA Unemployment Insurance?
YES. If you have lost your job or have had your hours reduced because of COVID-19, you may be eligible. Unemployment insurance offers a partial wage replacement — $40 to $450 a week. Go to the website edd.ca.gov to submit an application for unemployment insurance. The $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package extends jobless insurance by 13 weeks, and includes a four-month enhancement of benefits (an additional $600 per week). The program is broadened to include freelancers, furloughed employees, and gig workers.
Can I apply for state disability insurance?
YES. If you’re unable to work due to medical quarantine or illness related to COVID-19, or any other illness (certified by a medical professional), you may be eligible. Disability offers 60% to 70% of your wages, from $50 to $1300 per week for 52 weeks. Go to edd.ca.gov to apply for disability benefits. Note: your employer may provide 100% of your pay if you’re quarantined with COVID-19. Please check with your Shop Steward or NUHW Union Representative.
Can I apply for workers’ compensation?
On May 6, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an executive order stating that essential workers, including healthcare workers, who contract COVID-19 and file a workers compensation claim, shall be presumed to have contracted the virus at work, which increases the likelihood of a successful workers compensation claim.. Employers may rebut this claim, but the executive order shifts the burden of proof from the employee to the employer. At this time, the presumption is effective for claims of exposure from March 19, 2020 until July 6, 2020. Contact your Steward or Union Representative for help with filing a workers’ compensation claim. We recommend that you file immediately for disability (see previous question), while your workers’ compensation case is pending. For more info, read the fact sheet.
Can I be evicted for not paying rent?
Governor Newsom passed an executive order on March 27, 2020 that temporarily bans evictions statewide for those affected by COVID-19. The measure prevents the evictions of renters for the nonpayment of rent through May 31, 2020. It covers those who have lost work because of the pandemic, have become sick, or have had to take care of family members with COVID-19. Law enforcement and the court system also would be prohibited from executing evictions while the order is in effect. Renters are still required to eventually pay all the rent they owe, and must notify their landlords in writing within seven days of their nonpayment.
Can my house be foreclosed on if I can’t make mortgage payments?
Governor Newsom announced a 90-day payment relief on mortgage payments on March 25, 2020. Financial institutions will offer mortgage payment forbearances of up to 90 days to borrowers economically impacted by COVID-19. In addition, financial institutions will not report negative remarks to credit agencies, nor initiate foreclosure sales or evictions for at least 60 days. Late fees and other charges will be waived. Click here to apply for relief.
Can I extend the deadline to file my California and federal tax returns?
YES. Both the federal and state governments have extended the deadline for filing and paying income taxes until July 15, 2020.
Can I receive a stimulus payment?
MAYBE. The $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package offers payments to most adults of $1,200 and an additional $500 for every child under age 16. The amount depends on the income you reported to the IRS in 2019, or 2018 if you haven’t filed your 2019 taxes. Single adults who have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less would get the full amount. Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less would receive a total of $2,400. And taxpayers filing as head of household would get the full payment if they earned $112,500 or less. Single adults earning $99,000 or more won’t receive a stimulus payment; neither would married people with no children who earn $198,000. You can estimate your stimulus payment, based on your individual circumstances, here (calculator maintained by the Washington Post). The federal government says it will deliver payments in a matter of weeks.
Can I access temporary accommodations closer to my healthcare facility?
Talk to your steward or union representative to see if your employer is offering free accommodations for employees. Otherwise, Governor Newsom announced a new program on April 9 to provide frontline healthcare workers access to no-cost or low-cost hotel rooms. Starting April 10, frontline healthcare workers who are exposed to or test positive for COVID-19 can find hotel rooms through the CalTravelStore. Please call 1-877-454-8785 to validate your eligibility and make your reservation.
Can I access childcare as an essential worker?
Governor Newsom signed an executive order on April 4 that will facilitate child care for children of healthcare workers. Visit the portal at covid19.ca.gov/childcare to enter your location and the type of care you need. You will receive a list of local center-based and family child care programs.
Can I enroll in healthcare coverage if I am newly uninsured?
Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), members of the public who are uninsured or will soon lose their coverage can still apply for coverage through Covered California even though we’re not in the traditional “open enrollment” period. The deadline is June 30, 2020. Visit for more information: https://www.coveredca.com/individuals-and-families/getting-covered/special-enrollment/
Can I request an accommodation to work from home if I have a disability?
MAYBE. If you have a disability that would make you more vulnerable to the virus, you can request an accommodation from your employer to work from home under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. Similarly, if you live with someone who has a disability that makes them more vulnerable to the virus, you can request an accommodation from your employer to work at home in order to minimize the risk to the person you live with. For more information on requesting an accommodation from your employer, see this guide from the Job Accommodation Network. If your employer denies your request, talk to your Steward or Union Representative to file a complaint. Similarly, if your employer retaliates against you for making the request, talk to your Steward or Union Representative immediately.
Can I be reimbursed for purchasing PPE out-of-pocket by my employer?
YES. Your employer must reimburse you for any expenses you incurred to obtain necessary safety equipment or to otherwise keep yourself safe, under California Labor Code. Lodging costs may even be reimbursable under state law if you are forced to self-isolate away from home because you live with someone who either has the virus or is vulnerable to the virus. Talk to your steward or union representative for more information.
Can I receive paid sick leave because I’m infected with COVID-19?
YES, if you work for a large business (with 500 or more employees), your employer is required to provide you with supplemental paid sick time for COVID-19 related absences under a new law AB 1867 signed by Governor Newsom on September 9, 2020. Your employer can be in the private or public sector (such as healthcare districts), and employ healthcare workers or emergency responders.
It does not cover employees who work from home or employees of small businesses. An existing federal law, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, requires small businesses (i.e. employers with fewer than 500 employees) to provide paid sick time, however healthcare providers could be exempted.
The law entitles full-time employees to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave (part-time employees get less, on a pro-rata formula basis) for any of the following reasons:
- The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- The employee is advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to concerned related to COVID-19; or
- The employee is prohibited from working by the employer due to health concerns related to the potential transmission of COVID-19.
An employer may not require an employee to first use any other employer-paid leave, however, if an employer already provides employees with supplemental COVID sick leave that pays them at least the same amount as required by the new law, the employer may count those hours toward meeting its requirements under the legislation. COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave is in addition to any paid sick leave the employee may be entitled to under the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014, Labor Code section 246 (“HWHFA”).
If an employer illegally withholds COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave, they may be subject to a penalty of at least $250 per day, but not to exceed $4,000 in the aggregate.
This law is effective immediately and expires Dec. 31, 2020 or upon the expiration of any extension of the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, whichever is later.